Photographer: John Moore/Getty Images

Bad Analogies Reach Four-Month High as Election Day Looms

Where Brexit meets 'Mr. Brexit'.

In Brexit, Donald Trump has found his match. Or so pollsters, the media, and analysts of financial markets would have you believe. 


Mentions of the pair have rocketed to an almost five-month high in the closing stretch of the U.S. election campaign, as pundits trying to hedge their predictions consider a possibility that — have you heard? — would bear striking similarities to the upset the U.K. electorate produced this summer. 

Voters in the nation's referendum on European Union membership bloodied psephologists' noses when they voted 52 to 48 percent in favor of exiting the bloc — an outcome that bookmakers and financial markets largely failed to predict. Likewise Trump has never seriously threatened Hillary Clinton's lead in the polls, making the June 23 referendum the go-to example of a scenario traditional methods haven't foreseen.

It's well established by now that most experts failed to accurately forecast Brexit (a political platform that was itself fed up with experts), in a feat of self-actualization that is still troubling U.K. markets. That is part of the reason why analysts eye Trump's unimpressive polling numbers with suspicion. In less than a year, Trump has traveled from rank outsider to within striking distance of the White House. And so the Brexit bombshell has spawned comparisons between that referendum and Trump's chances in tomorrow's election, including this portmanteau of a portmanteau that decency forbids me to repeat.

The Republican candidate even makes the analogy himself.

The similarities have been endlessly rehashed, in part because there's a lot of truth to them: Both Trump and Brexit propose to upend the status quo. Both tend to be disliked by the people of Scotland. Both have increased recognition of tweeded right-winger Nigel Farage. And Trump, like Brexit, threatens to roil investors who haven't prepared.

But as news-trend data compiled by Bloomberg show, just ahead of the election the analogy has reached new and stratospheric heights, exceeded only in the aftermath of actual Brexit. The news-trend analytics count the incidence of Trump-Brexit mentions in the press, and show the pairing featured in almost 500 stories across sources available on the Bloomberg Terminal on just a single day of last week. Many people (this author included) are simultaneously irked by and guilty of this maneuver.

The good news is that if polls are correct, tomorrow's election will finally put paid to the analogy. If the favorite triumphs, of course. And we can think of one compelling precedent suggesting she won't....

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